Fearing More Assaults, Activist Asks For Army Protection

Ekachai Hongkangwan hands a letter to an army representative. Image: Ekachai Hongkangwan / Facebook

BANGKOK — A politician made headlines last week by scolding a soldier shadowing him on the campaign trail, but an activist Tuesday asked the military to do just that – follow him wherever he goes.

Having been assaulted by masked men for the sixth time in a year, pro-democracy campaigner Ekachai Hongkangwan formally requested the army keep him under close watch. The 44-year-old activist said it should have no problem providing him a security escort since it has done so for many politicians uninvited.

“I have been physically assaulted many times, and my belongings have been damaged, including my car,” Ekachai said. “Yet the army didn’t care about me at all, even though I have asked them to send soldiers to protect me in the past.”

Ekachai, well known for his one-man protests against the junta, said he was beaten by unidentified assailants at a government office last week. As with his other attacks in the past, police have yet to capture or identify any suspects.

Army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the military will have to study procedure before approving or rejecting Ekachai’s request.

“Usually, there has to be a formal request, and those who file the requests are usually people holding important offices that need protection,” Col. Winthai said by phone. “We will look into the details.”

Speaking in front of army headquarters today, Ekachai also urged Army Chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong to stop unwanted surveillance of politicians and stay true to his word to be neutral in the upcoming election.

“Gen. Apirat himself keeps stressing that the army will help the people, keep peace and order, and prevent any unrest during the election season,” the activist said.